Monday, September 19, 2011

Junk food as a reward, continued

In response to my emails about the use of candy and junk food as a reward in our school, the superintendent forwarded to me an email that went out to all district teachers today (I’ve turned the attachments into links):
Dear Teachers,

This e-mail is to remind you of the district’s Wellness Policy, which states that the district supports and promotes proper dietary habits contributing to students’ health status and academic performance. This includes foods in the classroom. The complete policy is on the district web page, under Health Services and Food Services/ Nutrition. Attached to this e-mail are guidelines for you to follow in implementing the policy, as well as a parent handout.

** Please note the following highlights from the policy as you plan your classroom celebrations, request or bring classroom snacks, plan fundraising with student-sponsored clubs, and consider using foods as rewards for students.

Classroom celebrations and snacks in the classroom:

• limit foods and drinks brought for celebrations during the school day to a list of snacks that meet the nutrition requirements for ala carte/ student vending foods and beverages (see below).

• see handout (Healthy School Celebrations) attached for healthy classroom snacks/ treats and share with parents

• incorporate physical activities into classroom and building celebrations

Food as rewards in the classroom:

• if rewards need to be given for academic performance or good behavior, it is best to use non-food items as rewards

• see handout attached for ideas of non-food items that can be used as rewards

• if food must be used as a reward, then that food must meet the guidelines of ala carte/ student vending foods and beverages (see below)

Bake sales/ fund raising

• encourage that healthy foods be sold at bake sales and other fund-raising activities, similar to guidelines of ala carte/ student vending items (see below)

• bake sales and other fundraising activities with foods are NOT to occur during the school lunch period

• see handout (Healthy School Celebrations) attached for a list of healthy foods to sell for fundraising

Nutrition requirements for ala carte/ student vending food items (also apply to classroom celebrations and fundraising):

• will contain no more than 35 percent of its calories from fat (excluding nuts, seeds, peanut butter and other nut butters)

• and no more than 10 percent of its calories from saturated and trans fat combined;

• and no more than 35 percent of its weight from added sugars;

Nutrition requirements for ala carte/ student vending beverage items (also apply to classroom celebrations and fundraising:

• no or low calorie beverages with up to 10 calories/ 8 ounces;

• fruit and vegetable juices and fruit-based drinks that contain at least 50 percent fruit juice and that do not contain additional caloric sweeteners;

• light juices and sports drinks with no more than 66 calories/ 8 ounces;

• unflavored or flavored low-fat or fat-free milk and nutritionally equivalent nondairy beverages (as defined by the USDA);

• offer only beverages up to 12 ounces per serving, with the exception of water

Thank you for your help in implementing the district Wellness Policy in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles and healthy choices for our students. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Susie Poulton, RN, MSN

Director of Health and Student Services
I still think it would be a better idea not to use food as a reward at all, but if this policy is followed, it will be a big improvement over the current practices in our school. The superintendent deserves a lot of credit for being so responsive on this issue.


Doris said...

Hi, Chris. Yes, thanks to Superintendent Murley for acting promptly to endorse the Wellness Policy. I hope he does not receive a bunch of angry emails in response.

Mandy said...

I looked at the links to the parent handouts and the rest and I'm thinking I've never seen one come home. I could be mistaken but I have only seen reference to something "Healthy" but no specific guidelines or suggestions. I actually found the information really useful. Much more useful than more detailed explanation of behavior expectations.
I agree Doris, I hope there isn't an angry backlash but the policy has been in place just not enforced as far as I can tell.

Anonymous said...

I've been following the blog- thanks for your posts! I am currently dealing with a small catholic school in which the teachers pass out candy for getting answers right, if you can believe it. I'm going to print your latest post and the links and have a meeting with the princiap this week. Thanks so much for writing about this and following through in your community.

Chris said...

Anonymous -- Thanks for commenting! I sure can believe it, because the same thing has been happening here. I hope our district will follow through and enforce its own policy. Good luck with raising the issue at your school.